Blog  Maccabiah 2018: Four Teams, One Camp

Maccabiah 2018: Four Teams, One Camp

When worlds collide, anything can happen! This week, Eisner Camp was consumed by Maccabiah, our three-day, all-camp color war. Our camp turned red, blue, green, and gold this week, and the best of our community shined bright. Four teams, one mission: Hineini.

While each Maccabiah has its shtick (we’ll get to that), the Judaic theme is what truly counts. It’s the core and purpose of our competition. This summer, we chose a cornerstone text from Pirke Avot that we use to begin every session’s Opening Ceremony: “At Sinai, Moses received the Torah and handed it over to Joshua, who handed it over to the elders, who handed it over to the prophets, who handed it over to the leaders of the Great Assembly. They said three things: be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah. Shimon the Righteous was from the remnants of the Great Assembly. He would say, ‘On three things the whole world stands: on the Torah, on prayer, and on acts of lovingkindness.’”

For Maccabiah, we added a fourth pillar that represents Eisner: community. None of these four pillars can stand without the others, and each pillar is held up by the actions we take as Jewish leaders in our camp community. Additionally, each team had a value paired with its pillar: Green team represented Torah and Emet (truth), Red team represented Avodah and Yirah (awe), Gold team represented Gimilut Chasadim and Chesed (compassion), and Blue team represented Kehillah and Achrayut (responsibility). By creating plaques, tallitot, murals, and mandalas, each team represented these values and brought them to life through art.

Now, the shtick. How did SpongeBob, Stitch, Fiona, and Elastigirl come together as our four mascots? In the Cartoon Universe, there was a (made-up) villain named Zaslon, who was sick and tired of being disrespected, misunderstood, and ignored. Zaslon successfully stole the all-powerful remote to the Cartoon Universe, the Panoptic Clickton, and planned to use it to take over the world.

Our four characters emerged as leaders, each believing they alone could save the Cartoon Universe. Each represented a different world: SpongeBob from Underwater, Stitch from Outer Space, Fiona from the Fantasy World, and Elastigirl from the Human World. At first, they each thought that they alone could be the hero of this story, and they were reluctant to work together. As Maccabiah progressed, they slowly but surely began to see the necessity of teamwork, utilizing the four pillars to repair the world. Only when all four realized their potential as a cohesive team was the Panoptic Clickton recovered, Zalson defeated, and the Cartoon Universe saved.

So how did Maccabiah start? Last Sunday, we brought all of camp into the Beit Am at the beginning of Breira to share some highlights from our amazing Make A Difference Day. At the conclusion of the presentation, Louis shared the exciting news that a local television network picked up the story, and the broadcast ended with a surprise! Watch the Maccabiah break here:

Breaking News from Eisner Camp! It's Maccabiah!

Earlier today the camp community gathered in the Beit Am to hear from Max Reiss about "Make a Difference Day." It wasn't what our campers expected!#thisisMaccabiah #anythingispossible

Posted by URJ Eisner Camp on Sunday, August 12, 2018

From the break and the Maccabiah Pledge to the final moments of the event, Eisner Maccabiah is about community. It’s about elevating the talents, leadership, and love of every one of our campers and staff. From Olim taking over as the leaders of camp to our youngest campers conquering their fears on the dance stage and sports fields, Maccabiah brings out the best of Eisner. Beyond just teaching this through our Judaic theme, we strive to emphasize the importance of building teamwork, community, and confidence through our actions.

In truth, Maccabiah is our greatest embodiment of Hineini. Through song, art, dance, drama, sports, and most of all, spirit, we recommit ourselves to our mission statement:

Hineini – Here I am

… I am here to strengthen my own self-esteem and that of everyone in the camp community.

… I am here to strengthen my own Jewish identity and spirituality and that of everyone in the camp community.

… I am here to strengthen my connection to the Eisner community and the Jewish community and to help everyone around me to do the same.

… I am here to do as much as I can, in the time that I have, in the place that I am, and to inspire others to join me in this holy work.

לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמוֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.

For it is written: “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben chorin, l’heebatel mimena.”

“You are not required to complete the work, nor are you free to ignore it.” Pirke Avot 2:16

At each event and competition, we live these values. From Tug ‘O War to Merutz Meshuga (our big all-camp Wacky Relay race), every aspect of Maccabiah is planned and run with the intention of living both our mission statement and our four pillars. Sure, one team wins at the end. But Maccabiah is about so much more than winning; it’s about highlighting the finest in each of us.

At the very end of Maccabiah, after revealing our winner (Mazel Tov, Green Team), we brought all of camp outside to the hill behind the Fine Arts Building. Olim had already symbolically strewn their team colors to join back together as one unit, and we came back together as one camp. We sang Over the Rafters, enjoyed some fireworks, and ended with the Bedtime Sh’ma. Just like that, the colors and competition were over.

At camp, we often like to say, “Everyone’s a winner at Eisner.” Though sometimes said in jest, Maccabiah gives this phrase new meaning. While one team does come out victorious, through the community we build and the talents we showcase throughout Maccabiah, we all win!